Release Date: 4/10/2012
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Kelli Owen's work. It all started back when I was a scared little girl in a Big New City who wandered into a little used book store while waiting for her take out sushi order to be ready. I happened upon a copy of Kelli's novel, Six Days, as I browsed the heavily stocked shelves of the tiny shop. I was drawn to it in part thanks to Russell Dickerson's awesome cover. Figuring it was worth the $5 investment (and boy was I ever right! I later found out that it was part of an extremely limited run from Thunderstorm Books' Maelstrom set and has since sold on ebay for over $200.00!) I paid for my prize and left. Back at the sushi bar, I sat down with my purchase (which I carried in a recycled shopping bag from a defunct home goods store) and began reading. I was instantly engrossed. Kelli has a way with words that few people are lucky enough to possess. As I've said before, she has a really remarkable talent for setting the scene, and the opening of Six Days completely drew me in, so much so that I actually sat there until I had finished the first three chapters despite the fact that my sushi was ready... and for those of you who don't know me, it takes something pretty remarkable to keep me away from sushi.
After I had read and thoroughly enjoyed Six Days, I was hungry for more. I hopped on to amazon.com to check out what else she had available, and I highly recommend that you do the same, starting with the collection I'm reviewing (though it has taken me a bit to get to that, heh.), Black Bubbles.
As someone who works a day job, writes whenever she can, and somehow manages to squeeze in a social life including a boyfriend and two adorable dogs, I appreciate short story collections. I like being able to read a story from start to finish on my lunch break, before bed, or whenever I can grab a few minutes of spare time. Part of the price so often paid for this convenience is filler stories - not the author's best work, but included to pad the rest of the collection and satisfy whatever length requirements were set forth by the publisher. You won't find any of that here. Nosiree, Black Bubbles is 100% USDA Prime story telling. Every single story included in this volume is fantastic, diverse, and remarkably enjoyable. As much as I admire the awesome glittery toed gypsy that is Kelli Owen, I was not expecting the range of themes she was able to expertly pin to the page. I was blown away by how radically different, yet somehow wholly cohesive, this collection is. It runs the gamut from gory zombie stories to black humor, ghost stories, tales of serial killer depravity, and the horrors that can be found in every day life. Among my favorites (although it was really, really tough to pick just a few) were Spell (based on a Nick Cave song of the same name) which is an utterly heartbreaking story that does the song justice in a truly horrifying way, The Rabbit, which, though brief, is fascinating and dark, and the title story, Black Bubbles, which is utterly unique and completely terrifying. This is a collection you definitely don't want to miss. I can't give it high enough marks. Oh, hell, this is my blog, I can break my own rating system if I want to, and this is a book/ebook that most definitely warrants it.
6 Black Bubbles out of 5.